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We hope that your Sleep Out America experience is a powerful one. To help you and members of your group understand the importance of what you are doing and the impact you are making, we recommend using the following conversation starters to discuss as a group during your Sleep Out.

CONVERSATION STARTERS FOR KIDS

What does the word homeless mean to you?

What do you think of when you think of “homeless people”? How about "homeless kids"?

What makes your house a home?

(If/when you start to feel cold or uncomfortable) How do you think you would feel if you didn’t know when you could go inside?

What things do your parents or siblings do to help you overcome challenges? What things do you do to help them? How does it feel to have this kind of support in your house?

Has tonight changed the way you think about homelessness or people who are homeless? How?

Who do you think is most responsible for helping kids avoid becoming homeless: their parents, the child welfare system, the young people themselves, schools, the government, or nonprofits?

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IF YOU WATCHED OUR VIDEOS...

What are some things you have in common with and the kids you heard from tonight have in common with each other?

What impressed you the most about the stories you heard?

The kids we heard from in the videos (Jason & Ebony) did not have great support systems: parents, teachers, friends, or other adults looking out for them and building them up. How do you think that influenced the decisions they made? Do you think you would have made similar or different decisions in those situations?

What are some things the kids you heard from tonight had in common with each other?

What are some things that they have in common with you and kids you know?

What impressed you the most about the stories you heard?

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CONVERSATION STARTERS FOR ADULTS

Who do you think is most responsible for helping kids avoid becoming homeless: their parents, the child welfare system, the young people themselves, schools, the government, or nonprofits?

People measure their self worth in different ways: what they accomplish, what they wear, how much money they have, who their friends are, or how many friends they have. How do you define your self-worth? How do you think having low self-esteem or no self worth would affect someone’s decision making? How do you think it could  contribute to someone becoming homeless?

What makes your house a home?

Has tonight changed the way you think about homelessness or people who are homeless? How?

(If/when you start to feel cold or uncomfortable) How do you think you would feel if you didn’t know when you could go inside?

What are the questions you still have about homelessness, homeless kids, or Covenant House?

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POST-SLEEP OUT CONVERSATION STARTERS

What did it feel like to sleep outside?

How did sleeping outside affect the rest of your day?

How did this experience resonate with you?

Has your perception of homeless youth changed after sleeping out?

What are the biggest take-aways you have from your experience?

Will you continue to be involved in the homelessness cause? What things are you thinking about doing?

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